The postulated link between sensitivity to the bitter-tasting compound 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) and an increased risk of obesity is influenced by environmental factors. Studies in different populations have shown a varied and sometimes conflicting association between being a PROP taster and having a higher BMI. Children of lower socioeconomic status are at particular risk of obesity or overweight. The prevalence of obesity has been reported to be about 50% higher in low-income children attending the preschool program Head Start than in the overall preschool population. In their study, Lumeng and colleagues assessed PROP sensitivity in relation to BMI among Head Start preschoolers. They found that preschoolers who were PROP tasters were nearly six times more likely to be overweight than non-PROP tasters. PROP sensitivity and the food aversions that accompany it may serve as a marker for greater risk of obesity among preschoolers whose families' low income may already limit their options for a well-balanced diet.
Julie C. Lumeng1, Tiffany M. Cardinal, Jacinta R. Sitto and Srimathi Kannan. Ability to Taste 6-n-Propylthiouracil and BMI in Low-income Preschool-aged Children. Obesity 2008 July Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.